There are non-so blind as those that loudly proclaim that they can see.
Hi, I’m Rob Greaves.
This is the forty-seventh posting in this on-going, if not somewhat ad-hoc column, called “Ruminations From My Verandah” and it’s the first for 2017.
What a beautiful first day of autumn in Melbourne it is, in fact it has been a beautiful week and it seems as though this suggests we are in for a real “Indian summer”, although technically the weather has to be warm at the end of the month, rather than the beginning for an Indian Summer, but should i let the facts get in the way?
It has been a wonderful afternoon, I commenced assembly of a birdbath stand for the beautiful glazed birdbath my darling partner June made at pottery. It would be easily to get distracted and talk about her amazing pottery, that she thinks isn’t that good, although since getting a commission she is coming around, but I won’t.
Well, maybe just to mention that a very nice and very reasonably priced white wine, that I happen to be imbibing, is McGuigan’s Black label Chardy, which is incredibly well priced, and if taken down to a really cold temperature is incredibly acceptable, if not delightful, on a warm day.
I do believe that the adage, “question everything” is in fact, a very healthy position to take.
Now I work in the media so I am very aware of how easy it is to put a “slant” on an issue to encourage readers to see things a certain way. It is also very obvious, that at times the media simply, “make it up”! Yup, the fake news syndrome, which the POTUS is very happy to claim every time a, hang on let’s make that, “many”, newspapers print something that he doesn’t agree with or even challenges him.
Part of the payment that a society must make when it has at it hands an incredibly powerful research tool, vis-à-vis the internet, is to definitely question or at least be cautious of what is presented and claimed to be “factual”.
Of course the tendency is to simply ignore anything or everything that comes up that does not support your position and if you look hard enough, eventually you will find something to support what you believe is right.
Thereby lies a problem. In a world that is on one hand technologically rich, we need to be careful that it is not factually poor!
With the rise and rise of what is loosely called social media, but in most cases is really Facebook, and to a lesser (only just) degree, Tweeting. This has given everyone the ability NOT to have an opinion, hell; we have always had that, but, to express it.
This immediately gives rise to “my opinion is more valid than your opinion”, or something like that.
I do remember a fabulous quote from Mark Twain on this matter. He wrote – “The rule is perfect: in all matters of opinion our adversaries are insane.”
You just have to admire his ability to cut to the chase. We are right, and everyone else who disagrees must therefore be insane, or at the very least – wrong!
This certainly seems to sum up the beliefs of Donald Trump, who now he has risen to the position of President of the United States, there are so many people hanging on his every word, as if, by becoming President he has suddenly drunk from the “Fountain of Wisdom”, and that his very utterances must therefore, be true.
Rubbish! He is a man who believes his own fallacious belief system that he, and according to him, he alone, is able to see the “truth”.
Now believe it or not, this is not an anti-Donald Trump Rumination – although only the gods could find someone better suited to highlight as ranting fool!
There are so many non-POTUS’s out there, that seem to believe that “they” know what is right and the rest of us either know nothing or are mouthpieces for the ‘fake news media”.
You all would have experienced them, however, an experience I had this afternoon actually gave rise to this whole line of thought.
Excuse me while I pour another cold Chardonnay.
I was floating around Facebook looking after a few groups I am an Admin in, when a post by a female friend, who vacillates between being a bit of a ‘stirrer” and, having some “strange” points of view, started a thread about the holier than thou attitude to tobacco by the government and how it taxes people, and that it’s all wrong and that there is no proof that it harms etc etc.
You know I can cope with that, I make allowances for her “eccentricities”, but it was when some “clown” wanted to argue that there is little or no evidence to support a correlation between smoking and lung cancer, only to be topped by his disbelief regarding to the high cost to the Australian health system of smoking.
When I quoted verifiable facts as published by US and Australian Government sources based upon reputable and reproducible studies, I was faced with the comment that he was questioning my figure of about $31billion a year because a “senator’ had quoted a lower figure and therefore I must be wrong!
A Senator! An Australian Senator! – well that’s a really reliable factual source if recent events with out politicians is any indicator.
This extraordinary declaration can be seen all the time, through inane, bordering on insane, claims about how the “evidence” shows vaccinations cause harm, how the claims that global warming are wrong and by the POTUS that the evidence is in the ban all Muslims from certain countries.
It leaves me wondering, what has happened to the “Age of Reason”? What has happened to our beliefs based upon observable, verifiable, reproducible tests and observations?
It’s almost as if the pace of change and the technology revolution has created a tsunami of irrational beliefs because if we don’t really understand what is happening, maybe it’s because the old ways, and the old beliefs – the irrational beliefs, are right!
Dr. Google, Professor Google, Social Worker Google, add whatever descriptor you want to Google, is now able to ram into our faces whatever it is we WANT to see.
We seem to be losing the ability to have a rational, science based, logical interrogation of what is happening, and to be able to find whatever it is we want, like to show there are conspiracies, that ALL government decisions are wrong, that science is a fallacy and not fact, and that as long as I can regurgitate a piece of nonsense and do so with force, it will make it right!
Compounding this problem is, the observable conclusion that some Governments and many politicians are in “it” for what they can get! It IS getting harder to separate the facts from the fiction because of the avalanche of information – which requires careful scrutiny in order to separate out the chaff from the wheat.
We may be very well at a crossroads, and like Robert Johnson, are we prepared to arrive at the crossroads and sell our soul?
What is in fact a little information and is it a bad thing? What is a lot of information and is it a bad thing? Well let’s face it, it IS a question of quality, not quantity in regard to the information and if we can have quality info and a lot of it, then maybe we can sway the opinions of some – but I’m not certain any longer.
All I know is, that I move further and further away, not from those that have knowledge, but probably from those that proclaim LOUDLY, that they have the answer.
What if they do?
I guess I just have to rely on my own experiences that certainly suggest, when it comes to public debate – “There are non-so blind as those that loudly proclaim that they can see.”
In the meantime this darn bottle is empty, and so is the fridge and that, is a fact that is observable and conclusive!